I have gradually changed through the years and I am more sure of myself and less timid. However, I am fed up with the world now, particularly in the last year and more and more as each month passes. It’s not a world in which I like to live in. I am becoming a lone-wolf and do not wish to meet new people. I am happy by myself. No, actually I am quite unhappy because I feel very lonely and would like to travel more with my husband who doesn’t want to. I don’t want new friends or social life because I have Gilberto’s pupils, a few of my old ones, Mary, Anna, and Paola. Anyway, I have less energy and strength because of my disabilities and it’s also depressing to understand that soon I won’t be able to travel even alone because of them.
I am often asked how I compose … With fortitude, passion, will, patience, resilience, conscience, humility; in no particular order.
When I decide to compose a piece, I generally know in advance what kind of composition I want to tackle: a work inspired by a text or an image, a precise form like the Sonata or a free form, which for me however is never really free. I don’t have any systemic way, but I simply compose in the old manner using the piano to improvise freely and slowly proceed, above all, towards the development of the initial or secondary idea. Sometimes I have to rework it with difficulty until I’m satisfied with it and between improvisation on the piano, inspiration in the old way, development or variation of melodic ideas or more conceptual elaboration of counterpoint and orchestration on paper, even without the piano, I carry on the discourse.
I have never been very good at playing the piano and consequently, from a young age my sight-reading was not very well developed, but it improved with teaching. Thus, not having the ease of reading a lot of piano literature to improve my culture and struggling a lot with the scores, I had to trust my listening processing skills; what many call a good ear. I am not talking about a perfect ear (perfect pitch), which in any case is not essential for a composer, (so much so that I can compose with an out of tune piano and a semitone below) but the ability to hear all the parts of Music at the same time and understand their logic, essence, and aesthetics. The first fundamental lessons of Aesthetics were taught to me by my father, a great lover of the Arts, with whom I spoke a lot, the second purely musical with my Conservatory Professor, Bruno Bettinelli, the third with my mentor, Hans Keller, and finally with my husband, Gilberto Serembe. I have been very lucky. I believe I have an ear, that is, a mind capable of distinguishing simultaneously at various levels. I understand the conduct of the parts on the fly and I often guess in which direction the music will go. For me, the analyses that are done in composition classes today are exaggerated and harmful because they block the imagination. My generation, and fortunately with Bettinelli, did not study analysis as a subject. Basically, there was the student’s musical intuition. If he understood without too many explanations, he was musical, otherwise, he changed job. If I found that such a passage, or something else, was logical, I would not go beyond analysing it and I believe that this allowed me to develop my imagination, a bit like all composers of the past had done. For me, it has been increasingly important to understand the essence, the “background”, that is, what lies behind the mere notes. I consider myself fortunate not to have succumbed to the kind of teaching of Composition in force in the last 50 and more years in conservatories. Furthermore, having to justify everything in writing is pure madness! Luckily, I graduated the old-fashioned way. I instinctively search for beautiful sound, form, and good musical ideas. For me, any musical technique must lead to beautiful harmonies. My mind also continues to work away from the piano to carry on a discourse. I can’t describe what exactly I do. I am well acquainted with classical harmony and the styles of composers who have detached themselves from traditions and rules in various eras and I try to do the same, but it is very much subconscious and instinctive. I don’t always know or understand what I do when I compose, so much so that sometimes, listening to one of my records after some time, I am amazed and wonder how I did it. I mean, not technically but musically.
3rd March 2022